Bringing your child to bed with you may seem like the easiest thing to do when you’re in desperate need of sleep and she wants to be close to you. This act, however, can spiral into the habit of your child not wanting to sleep alone. By encouraging her to sleep in her own bed, you can maintain a normal sleep routine, as well as nighttime privacy.
Talk to your child during the daytime when he’s in a good mood to let him know that he will have to start sleeping in his big-boy bed. Explain that mommy and daddy need to sleep in their bed and he needs to sleep in his bed. Try to get him to tell you why he doesn’t like to sleep alone and address his fears, which might include a fear of the dark or just a fear that you won’t be there in the morning if he doesn’t sleep with you.
Give her something that will diminish her fears, such as a nightlight or flashlight if she’s afraid of the dark, a spray bottle to ward off monsters or a special blanket or stuffed animal if she suffers from separation anxiety.
Get up and put him back in his bed — without getting angry — if he comes to your bed in the middle of the night. Be calm, but be firm. Tell him you love him, give him a kiss and leave the room. You may have to repeat this a few times during the first few days. Be consistent or you’ll send mixed signals and he won’t understand he must stay in his own bed.
Praise your child every morning when she stays in her bed all night or goes back to her bed on her own. She may feel the need to make sure you’re there, but go back to bed willingly. Consider a star chart to reward her. Give her a star for every night she stays in bed, then let her redeem those stars for a reward such as an extra bedtime story or a new bedtime story.
Lie in your child’s bed for a few minutes if he cannot deal with your absence, especially if he’s sick or scared. You want to comfort your child, but not encourage him to feign illness just to get back in bed with you.